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StarTopic Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door |ST| A Classic Re_rinted!

Having reflected on things more I think I would make an earnest argument that in terms of both the original and its remake, Super Mario RPG was both more timeless as a game and more accomplished in terms of the remake experience.

I don't know what it is about Intelligent Systems' oeuvre after Paper Mario 64, but for whatever reason it dawns on me that the Paper Mario games would go on to forget how to make compelling design for about three games straight where so much of what you do is pure wheel spinning. Super Paper Mario doing so perhaps literally at one point, but even being the most maximalist case of it where the level design is consistently atrocious in a game where that should matter more than any other facet of the game. Every time I return to TTYD I tend to find myself in a situation where I'm mainly playing it with the mentality of "Chapter 3 is when the real game begins", then by Chapter 5 I'm basically ready to beeline it to the end. I don't think this sentiment would've felt so prevalent to me if it were exclusively limited to the way pacing and levels were designed, but by the halfway point the battles are just too protracted for fodder encounters to stay engaging and usually require some resource loss to combat the lack of linear level scaling. No amount of diminishing extrinsic rewards can offset that feeling which was why I personally never cared about things like TOK's lopsided coin economy; if it's not fun after a while then it's just not fun regardless of whatever reward is at the end of it. Finally as was mentioned before by a few people, the flavor dialogue from partners is not nearly as nuanced outside of their initial encounters as I'd remembered for me to feel like the character work is more than texture.

There was a time in my life where I'd feel pretty indifferent about the notion that Super Mario RPG was a one-of-a-kind game that hadn't been meaningfully evolved or improved by its two successor series but in experiencing the remake of that game I feel like I've probably spent a lifetime selling that game short on some of its buck wild narrative beats and inventive storytelling (Mallow summoning rainstorms from crying has some ingenious narrative payoff for its time), and that its remake changes probably had a more meaningful impact on my enjoyment of that game than I would've expected. The changes to the combat in particular made what was already a much more engaging take on action command combat -- where you'd always have to memorize and change up less obvious timings for different weapon equips and against different attacks -- into something that fits the suitably breezy pace of the game, since fodder enemy battles sometimes last less than 10 seconds without having to spend a single consumable resource if you were skilled enough. All of that was carried aloft by a rich party that was allowed to rotate in and out of story moments to provide narrative depth, not just flavor.

Where the TTYD remake succeeds comparatively is in the way it proves that IntSys still sit on an incredible trove of artists who have the capacity to spice up a creative world full of vigor and whimsy that really rely on this Paper-like presentation more than people like to admit, but in this remake I feel now that there was a missed opportunity to tinker with the bones of this title more explicitly rather than applying a band-aid solution for its more easily contested elements. It results in a remake where its only value is as a replacement item to embellish, and in some respects I think that's fine, but it's a reminder to me that TTYD shows its age and that everything from combat, to overall design, to writing, could benefit from a rethinking of priorities even if they choose to revert to an RPG formula. I miss the "ideas" they had from this era, but less so the feeling that "idea guys" were lopsided on the scales.
I'm admittedly not the biggest fan of classic turn-based JRPGs precisely because my brain focuses too much on pacing but I think this is a very well thought out and accurate essay. I honestly think that out of 64 and TOK this is the worst Paper Mario game I've played so far, and I'm surprised by how much of what carries it is more or less in TOK anyways (the writing and the artistry). I ended up feeling like what was missing in the later games was moreso the distinct visual style and not so much anything else, yes TTYD has a much better battle system than TOK, but it doesn't matter when its pacing is infinitely worse and half of almost every chapter feels like filler.
 
I’ve thought this since I was little, but does anyone else feel like the game’s main villain - Grodus - is outshone by pretty much every villain in the game? In fact I’d say he was kinda done dirty.

His henchmen, the Sirens and Crump, have way more memorable and funny moments. Even the one-off chapter villains like Hooktail, Rawk Hawk etc.

Than when it comes time for his boss fight, it feels like he’s weaker than he should be due to having to be part of a Gauntlet with Bowser, who crushes him after. And then the Shadow Queen easily obliterates him lol.
I saw someone point out recently that even though scenario is usually its strong suit compared to the first game, TTYD kind of drops the ball on its main antagonists, and Grodus in particular. Bowser in the first game had a lot more personality and screentime, and we knew what makes him tick. Most of that was more or less established in Paper Mario, so him being an existing villain didn't even matter that much.

He's a really dry, serious individual who's pretty out of place as a villain in a Mario game, which could have been a nice contrast. He makes a good first impression, but we just get so little of note after that initial scene. We never learn anything about where the X-Nauts came from and why they have a base on the moon, or what Grodus's motivations for creating this organization and trying to conquer the world are, or why he's part robot or something. We get a single line implying he's actually just a standard narcissist type, like Dr. Eggman, which is a pretty lame answer for such an otherwise intense bad guy. And on a similar note there's a few cute personal villain touches in his office to drive home the cliche, like the potted pitcher plant. But they don't want to commit to that route for fear of ruining the intimidation factor I guess, so they can't really rely on comedy with him, and end up kind of just not doing much with him.

I've seen some people hating on TTYD's interludes recently, and yeah tbh they're probably a lot worse than the first game's, and that's in part because of Grodus as a villain compared to Bowser. TEC is a more interesting character than Twink, but the Peach stuff here is weird, her dynamic with him is very different and a lot more passive, and we're doing mostly the same stuff from last time when we do sneak out but with no funny Bowser scenes and a lot less things to send to Mario. Compared to the first one, it's less clear why we're kicking it over to these other characters between chapters in the first place. Especially Bowser, who could have not been in the game at all if you changed the scene after the Grodus fight, and might have actually come off better if his Glitz Pit cameo was his only appearance in the whole thing. They really portray him as a total loser in this game.
 
Thousand Year Door is my favorite game in the series but I am glad it’s getting looked at a bit more critically for things aside from the usual talking points (back tracking, etc). A similar thing happened with Xenoblade Definitive Edition, where a basically objective upgrade of a classic came out that addressed some issues, but also exposed some of the minor issues or imperfections that later games improved upon. It’s good to be able to look at golden games like this as games rather than ideas.

Ironically I think Ocarina of Time is still objectively perfect
 
I saw someone point out recently that even though scenario is usually its strong suit compared to the first game, TTYD kind of drops the ball on its main antagonists, and Grodus in particular. Bowser in the first game had a lot more personality and screentime, and we knew what makes him tick. Most of that was more or less established in Paper Mario, so him being an existing villain didn't even matter that much.

He's a really dry, serious individual who's pretty out of place as a villain in a Mario game, which could have been a nice contrast. He makes a good first impression, but we just get so little of note after that initial scene. We never learn anything about where the X-Nauts came from and why they have a base on the moon, or what Grodus's motivations for creating this organization and trying to conquer the world are, or why he's part robot or something. We get a single line implying he's actually just a standard narcissist type, like Dr. Eggman, which is a pretty lame answer for such an otherwise intense bad guy. And on a similar note there's a few cute personal villain touches in his office to drive home the cliche, like the potted pitcher plant. But they don't want to commit to that route for fear of ruining the intimidation factor I guess, so they can't really rely on comedy with him, and end up kind of just not doing much with him.

I've seen some people hating on TTYD's interludes recently, and yeah tbh they're probably a lot worse than the first game's, and that's in part because of Grodus as a villain compared to Bowser. TEC is a more interesting character than Twink, but the Peach stuff here is weird, her dynamic with him is very different and a lot more passive, and we're doing mostly the same stuff from last time when we do sneak out but with no funny Bowser scenes and a lot less things to send to Mario. Compared to the first one, it's less clear why we're kicking it over to these other characters between chapters in the first place. Especially Bowser, who could have not been in the game at all if you changed the scene after the Grodus fight, and might have actually come off better if his Glitz Pit cameo was his only appearance in the whole thing. They really portray him as a total loser in this game.
Yeah he’s the only villain in the game (aside from Shadow Queen) who doesn’t really have any funny moments and that is a part of it for sure.

But honestly, even the Shadow Queen is a way better serious, intimidating villain. They do a great job making her revival feel like a shit just got real moment. Possessing peach is cool as fuck and the kind of stuff I come to Mario RPGs for. Her intimidation factor is backed up gameplay-wise by what’s regarded as a pretty tough final boss fight.

She’s a last-minute final boss so she doesn’t have to carry a whole game like Grodus, but at the same time, she makes more of an impression in her short screentime than he had an entire game to make.
Thousand Year Door is my favorite game in the series but I am glad it’s getting looked at a bit more critically for things aside from the usual talking points (back tracking, etc). A similar thing happened with Xenoblade Definitive Edition, where a basically objective upgrade of a classic came out that addressed some issues, but also exposed some of the minor issues or imperfections that later games improved upon. It’s good to be able to look at golden games like this as games rather than ideas.

Ironically I think Ocarina of Time is still objectively perfect
Yeah, and all of the discussion just makes me want a game that improves upon and evolves it’s ideas even more.

I think someone had said it earlier, but if the series had actually meaningfully evolved and improved upon TTYD while keeping what made it great, TTYD likely wouldn’t be held up as the cult classic it’s become today. As a huge fan, I’m completely open to admitting there’s a ton of room for improvement. Some of that improvement has even been made by later entries in the series, just… never enough to make up for what was lost, personally.

I still believe there’s a GOAT tier game out there that takes the best ideas from across the series and evolves them all, and IS is totally capable of making it.
 
I can understand having the PM64, M&L:SS, BIS, and somewhat TOK above TTYD. But CS? CS and its predecessor SS are the definition of horrible game design and poor execution, even through a fundamental level. Don't get me wrong, I respect your opinion, but still.

Color Splash is pretty great outside of battles. And even those would be pretty good if there was some real reason to fight. It is a big flaw, but level design, humour and story is good.
 
I can understand having the PM64, M&L:SS, BIS, and somewhat TOK above TTYD. But CS? CS and its predecessor SS are the definition of horrible game design and poor execution, even through a fundamental level. Don't get me wrong, I respect your opinion, but still.
I agree that Sticker Star is a pretty bad game, but Colour Splash is Sticker Star done right. It carries over some of its predecessors flaws (like the pointless battles that also take way too long in this game or the absence of original character designs), but everything else is much improved upon. It's a fun game with great writing and level design, charming characters and a banger soundtrack. Above all it's really varied and well-paced, which I can't say for TTYD unfortunately.
 
A little surprised I seem to be in the minority in loving the game just as much as an adult! It could have used a few more tune-ups and a little more content (feeling a bit spoiled by Bug Fables) but I had an absolute blast with it. So many fun little moments I had forgotten about
 
I'm definitely a Colour Splash & Origami King apologist, I didn't fully play the original Paper Mario games outside of rentals until I was a teenager at least, but while I feel like Thousand-Year Door is kind of thin as an adult, there is something about it I still appreciate for its character and atmosphere. I grew up in Nintendo forums like most of you probably and I feel like this game was the perfect catalyst for a kid's imagination that I kind of absorbed through osmosis - all the different "Original Character" Toads and other creative creatures, the larger scope you could imagine just out of sight for things like the Glitz Pit, the emails you'd get from the newspaper making the world feel just enough "alive" outside of Mario. Obviously we want a more in-depth battle system, but there are those subtle qualities that aren't quite there in Origami King. But it's funny because they're all kind of facades, it doesn't totally hold up as an adult. That's probably something that's harder to imagine them improving in a future Paper Mario game outside even the dreaded "mandate", but Origami King definitely had some kind of sharpness to it that you could imagine it's possible, just out of arbitrary reach.

Man, it would just be so nice to see them really "let loose" again, firing on all cylinders. It's so hard to just accept that Toads can't even have a moustache now lol.

As long as Toads don't have moustaches, we'll always know they're holding back. Facts.
 
Color Splash is pretty great outside of battles. And even those would be pretty good if there was some real reason to fight. It is a big flaw, but level design, humour and story is good.
I disagree about the writing and story. The writing in modern Paper Marios, especially CS, is very heavy on the meta humor and paper jokes. It's a lot more quippy and snarky, approaching Marvel writing, which I'm not a fan of. The stories are pretty one dimensional as well, the lack of memorable characters really hurts them.
 
A little surprised I seem to be in the minority in loving the game just as much as an adult! It could have used a few more tune-ups and a little more content (feeling a bit spoiled by Bug Fables) but I had an absolute blast with it. So many fun little moments I had forgotten about
I, too, am enjoying the game the same way I enjoyed it back when I played it. But I honestly think the game has its flaws, regression from even PM64, but nothing deal breaking.

Tho I share the sentiment that it’s considered a cult classic because Super Paper Mario started with the gameplay changing
 
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Color Splash is pretty great outside of battles. And even those would be pretty good if there was some real reason to fight. It is a big flaw, but level design, humour and story is good.

That's the whole problem of CS and TOK. They're fun outside of battles which means they've got fundamental bad game design. It's like a fighting game that has a great story mode but the actual meat of the game just doesn't hold up.
 
That's the whole problem of CS and TOK. They're fun outside of battles which means they've got fundamental bad game design. It's like a fighting game that has a great story mode but the actual meat of the game just doesn't hold up.
This comparison is flawed, as especially with TOK they clearly didn't put the focus on the battles (which isn't the meat of the game!). They are designed like small puzzles to be beaten as fast as possible and not meant to have deep systems- and they are entirely optional. The game is primarily an adventure with a fun world to explore and a cute story. And despite the lacking battle system it's imo still the best Paper Mario game, as the flaws of TTYD (small corridor-like levels, terrible dungeon design, sometimes bad pacing, backtracking etc). had sadly a way bigger influence over my enjoyment of the game.

And that's true with CS as well, even though the battle system is a bigger problem here, simply because fights take longer. Still, the rest of the game is just better designed and more fun than TTYD.
 
This comparison is flawed, as especially with TOK they clearly didn't put the focus on the battles (which isn't the meat of the game!). They are designed like small puzzles to be beaten as fast as possible and not meant to have deep systems- and they are entirely optional. The game is primarily an adventure with a fun world to explore and a cute story. And despite the lacking battle system it's imo still the best Paper Mario game, as the flaws of TTYD (small corridor-like levels, terrible dungeon design, sometimes bad pacing, backtracking etc). had sadly a way bigger influence over my enjoyment of the game.

And that's true with CS as well, even though the battle system is a bigger problem here, simply because fights take longer. Still, the rest of the game is just better designed and more fun than TTYD.

My experience is the opposite of yours, bad battle mechanics ruin the experience for me, I can't agree with the battles being an option, that would only be the case if you could turn them off in the menu in favour of a mechanic like SPM, enemies are in your way throughout the game.

The sentiment that everything else is fun outside of battles is really common. Which just brings me to the question, why have battles at all? The answer to that is that they clearly want to stick to the RPG roots of PM, but the execution is severely lacking.

I want a PM game that's fun, both outside of battle as well as in battles, that's not asking for something crazy today, we've had so many fantastic RPG games at this point. Having said that, I'd take a linear overworld over a game with bad battle mechanics that feel pointless to do.
 
That's the whole problem of CS and TOK. They're fun outside of battles which means they've got fundamental bad game design. It's like a fighting game that has a great story mode but the actual meat of the game just doesn't hold up.
I think there's quite a few people who would suggest battles have never been the meat of Paper Mario. And honestly, even in this playthrough of TTYD I found myself getting kind of bored of battles around Chapter 5 (not every encounter universally, but I feel there's not enough being done in the game to mix things up). I still love the game, but battles aren't particularly high on the list of reasons why.

On that note of mixing things up, I'm realizing that the original did a better job of keeping enemy encounters fresh and was less reliant on re-using enemy types. Clefts, Puffs, and Piranha Plants just kinda keep showing up in this one; I think they get three chapters as standard enemies each? Chapters 4 onward in PM64 especially feel like they just have full suites of unique enemies with varied guard timings, with recycled enemies existing but being more of an exception. In TTYD it starts to feel like new enemies are the exception starting in Chapter 4 (though 5 admittedly is still... okay about it), and none of them are as creative as Bzzap! or Gulpit. It's a shame too, because I feel like they had room to go out there with challenging enemy designs with how much freedom the expanded combat over the original gives you.
 
Yeah honestly I've found regular battles to be more of a chore than anything in all the Paper Mario games I've played (I'm excluding boss battles here as they're generally more interesting). The only one I didn't mind was actually Origami King's but that's specifically because they're puzzle based and I'm a fan of puzzle games.

I dunno, they've always felt like they've got in the way of what I've liked about the games I've played but that's just me.
 
I think there's quite a few people who would suggest battles have never been the meat of Paper Mario. And honestly, even in this playthrough of TTYD I found myself getting kind of bored of battles around Chapter 5 (not every encounter universally, but I feel there's not enough being done in the game to mix things up). I still love the game, but battles aren't particularly high on the list of reasons why.
I think suggesting battles aren't a core part of Paper Mario is a bit of revisionist history. They're a core staple of the first two games. It's only an experimental would-be spinoff and the newer games which fundamentally screwed battles up so bad they became less of a focus, to their detriment.

Regarding TTYD's battle system, it's engaging enough to justify itself throughout whole game. All the active elements make the system come alive: Action commands, stylish commands, perfect guards, enemy immunities, status effects, crowd level, audience/stage interactions, etc. Any given battle in TTYD has a lot of mechanics in play. Even if you're steamrolling enemies, trying to hit perfect guards and stylish timings are engaging to makes easy battles intrinsically enjoyable. They're over quick regardless, and the EXP level-curve dropoff means you can never be severely over-leveled on a normal playthrough.

That's not even getting into the nuance badge and leveling systems bring to the table for different playstyles. Think the game is too easy? Do a BP and FP-only run and equip the harder action commands badge. Want to run a high-risk high-return strategy? Make a Mega Rush build! Want to be a hard hitting tank? Level up HP and use your few BP on big damage badges! It's not FFX sphere system levels of depth, but it's decently deep if you're willing to look.

If someone's finding the battles to be a chore then turn-based JRPGs probably aren't for you.
 
TTYD has enough depth in its battles I think to remain interesting throughout (for the most part), though I wouldn’t say it is necessarily the battle system itself doing the heavy lifting. Though enemy patterns can be interesting at times (and I definitely would agree that 64 does a lot more with enemy variety to spice things up), I’d say it’s a serviceable turn-based structure like the other Mario RPGs. For me, the fun of leveling up and getting stuff like more BP to increase my options in battle is the really rewarding part. Battles then become interesting because you get more and more options at your disposal to use on enemies. This extends to getting more partners too. Though, since both cap off at a certain point, I think that might be why end-game TTYD can start feeling tedious (though, imo, the last floors of the Pit become more interesting again due to the increase in difficulty).

That’s how I’ve always seen it anyways.
 
I’ll say again the Metroidvania elements of TTYD are barely touched on in these discussions but another thing that’s sorely missed with the modern games, imo.

Like sure TTYD’s levels are smaller, more linear and have more backtracking, but I still vastly prefer its handling of field abilities. Between paper transformations, partner abilities, and jump/hammer upgrades Mario has way more field actions to play around with.

If TOK hints at a more classic Zelda leaning direction, that’s another thing they need to go back and takes notes from. The series has always kind of leaned that way
 
I think suggesting battles aren't a core part of Paper Mario is a bit of revisionist history. They're a core staple of the first two games. It's only an experimental would-be spinoff and the newer games which fundamentally screwed battles up so bad they became less of a focus, to their detriment.

Regarding TTYD's battle system, it's engaging enough to justify itself throughout whole game. All the active elements make the system come alive: Action commands, stylish commands, perfect guards, enemy immunities, status effects, crowd level, audience/stage interactions, etc. Any given battle in TTYD has a lot of mechanics in play. Even if you're steamrolling enemies, trying to hit perfect guards and stylish timings are engaging to makes easy battles intrinsically enjoyable. They're over quick regardless, and the EXP level-curve dropoff means you can never be severely over-leveled on a normal playthrough.

That's not even getting into the nuance badge and leveling systems bring to the table for different playstyles. Think the game is too easy? Do a BP and FP-only run and equip the harder action commands badge. Want to run a high-risk high-return strategy? Make a Mega Rush build! Want to be a hard hitting tank? Level up HP and use your few BP on big damage badges! It's not FFX sphere system levels of depth, but it's decently deep if you're willing to look.

If someone's finding the battles to be a chore then turn-based JRPGs probably aren't for you.
Perhaps I misspoke; I more meant that a fair number of people would say that battles aren't at the heart of why they like the game, not that they aren't a core part of the game's design. (Though I did choose the phrasing "a fair number of people" very carefully, as to intentionally not imply a majority.)

This playthrough of TTYD, battles are kinda hot and cold for me. Sometimes I'm really enjoying them, sometimes, I'm fairly annoyed I didn't manage to just walk by them. Maybe I'm just too good at superguards, but despite all the choices available I don't feel like I often have to make a decision that's actually interesting. Even your suggestion of doing a BP/FP only run - I don't feel that makes the game any harder.

For me, this is rather unique to TTYD. I don't get this feeling much from PM64 or the Mario and Luigi games, and I've enjoyed my share of turn-based RPGs. That's not the problem. It's weird, because at times the battle system really, really clicks, but sometimes it just doesn't. I think if a future Paper Mario largely lifted this system but had more unique enemy design, I'd be pretty happy with it.
 
If someone's finding the battles to be a chore then turn-based JRPGs probably aren't for you.

The absolute fucking gall for people who've spent a decade moaning about slight variations on the same turn based battle system to end a post like this, lmao, bloody hell.
 
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Perhaps I misspoke; I more meant that a fair number of people would say that battles aren't at the heart of why they like the game, not that they aren't a core part of the game's design. (Though I did choose the phrasing "a fair number of people" very carefully, as to intentionally not imply a majority.)

This playthrough of TTYD, battles are kinda hot and cold for me. Sometimes I'm really enjoying them, sometimes, I'm fairly annoyed I didn't manage to just walk by them. Maybe I'm just too good at superguards, but despite all the choices available I don't feel like I often have to make a decision that's actually interesting. Even your suggestion of doing a BP/FP only run - I don't feel that makes the game any harder.

For me, this is rather unique to TTYD. I don't get this feeling much from PM64 or the Mario and Luigi games, and I've enjoyed my share of turn-based RPGs. That's not the problem. It's weird, because at times the battle system really, really clicks, but sometimes it just doesn't. I think if a future Paper Mario largely lifted this system but had more unique enemy design, I'd be pretty happy with it.
I agree that Paper Mario is a series where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's the battles combined with the comfy aesthetic, unique characters, badge system, writing, story, platforming, action commands, cooking, etc. I think that's the view of most fans.

However, a turn-based battle system is inherently a major ingredient because of playtime. It's the gameplay you're doing for a significant percentage of the game, even in the newer entries: Battles easily makeup 50% of the playtime in SS and CS, and probably 35-40% of TOK. And the battle systems in those games are significantly worse than 64/TTYD's system. Taken on its own, the classic battle system isn't the peak of the genre (although I think TTYD's is well above average). But it's still way better than the newer games.

Anyway it's been too long since I've played PM64 so I can't comment on the enemy variety being better. I didn't have a problem with TTYD's enemies on this playthrough though.

I do think TTYD gives you too many good badge options that allow you to steamroll, I don't recall that being as big of an issue in 64 (maybe because it's a simpler game). Both games are fundamentally easy though, which is the crux of the problem. I think the BP/FP-only runs of TTYD does make the game more challenging. But higher difficulty modes would be a better option, In M&L the battle system isn't as in-depth as TTYD's, but the higher difficulty and more frantic action commands elevates those games a lot.
 
Perhaps I misspoke; I more meant that a fair number of people would say that battles aren't at the heart of why they like the game, not that they aren't a core part of the game's design. (Though I did choose the phrasing "a fair number of people" very carefully, as to intentionally not imply a majority.)

This playthrough of TTYD, battles are kinda hot and cold for me. Sometimes I'm really enjoying them, sometimes, I'm fairly annoyed I didn't manage to just walk by them. Maybe I'm just too good at superguards, but despite all the choices available I don't feel like I often have to make a decision that's actually interesting. Even your suggestion of doing a BP/FP only run - I don't feel that makes the game any harder.

For me, this is rather unique to TTYD. I don't get this feeling much from PM64 or the Mario and Luigi games, and I've enjoyed my share of turn-based RPGs. That's not the problem. It's weird, because at times the battle system really, really clicks, but sometimes it just doesn't. I think if a future Paper Mario largely lifted this system but had more unique enemy design, I'd be pretty happy with it.

Whatever the heart is of PM is personal. The battles however remain a core mechanic in PM games and I'm not gonna give a game slack just because it was good in another area. I'm going to give it the praise and critique I feel it deserves. The RPG ain't RPG-ing. I'd say that's real bad for a turn based game.

What I hope for the next PM is to enjoy the full game instead of 50% of it. This series pretty much said hold my beer to Sonic Unleashed lol.
 
I do think TTYD gives you too many good badge options that allow you to steamroll, I don't recall that being as big of an issue in 64 (maybe because it's a simpler game). Both games are fundamentally easy though, which is the crux of the problem. I think the BP/FP-only runs of TTYD does make the game more challenging. But higher difficulty modes would be a better option, In M&L the battle system isn't as in-depth as TTYD's, but the higher difficulty and more frantic action commands elevates those games a lot.
I largely agree with the rest of your post. Regarding this paragraph:

-64's 30 BP limit is a large part of why it's hard to steamroll as hard as TTYD in addition to the lack of superguarding. It's still easy of course, but you likely will find yourself in a situation where you need to think about your HP now and then. That hasn't really been the case for me in TTYD.

-I've always preferred Paper Mario to M&L on the whole, but I've come to realize this isn't true of their battle systems and the action commands are why. M&L gets a lot zanier with it, and its dodge system feels a lot more interactive than Paper Mario's guarding even if its pretty similar when you actually look at the bones of it. I'd like to see a Paper Mario game that keeps the low numbers but gets more out there with action command implementation.
 
I think we can all agree that, modern wise, TTYD’s battle mechanics have its ups and downs, but it’s one that can be further developed even more.

I dunno about you guys, but I’m excited for what Paper Mario Switch 2 will give us! Presentation wise and gameplay wise as well
 
I largely agree with the rest of your post. Regarding this paragraph:

-64's 30 BP limit is a large part of why it's hard to steamroll as hard as TTYD in addition to the lack of superguarding. It's still easy of course, but you likely will find yourself in a situation where you need to think about your HP now and then. That hasn't really been the case for me in TTYD.

-I've always preferred Paper Mario to M&L on the whole, but I've come to realize this isn't true of their battle systems and the action commands are why. M&L gets a lot zanier with it, and its dodge system feels a lot more interactive than Paper Mario's guarding even if its pretty similar when you actually look at the bones of it. I'd like to see a Paper Mario game that keeps the low numbers but gets more out there with action command implementation.
The BP limit is smart, TTYD would be better with one.

Yeah agreed about M&L's action commands and dodging being better than Paper Mario. I think the addition of X-axis in M&L is objectively better than PM's 2D combat. I'd love to see a new Paper Mario that combines every good together. M&L action commands and difficulty, classic PM partners, badges and audience mechanic, modern PM level design, etc.
 
I finally started this game between my bad headache stuff, I’m on chapter 2 and for playing it for the first time, I really like it so far.
Awesome, keep us posted on your journey through it! I'm probably going to try and beat the main story this weekend, then save some post-game content for next week.
 
I've found the game relatively easy up until the final boss. Now I've died multiple times and have gotten nowhere close to beating them. Am I bad at the game, or is this a known difficulty spike? Anyone have any tips? I've read strategies online, but I just seem to be losing health waaaay too fast. Some specifics:

The hands! The Shadow Queen's hands just do way too much damage to me. And if I kill the hands, they just come back? Since the hands have HP, I feel like I should be rewarded for clearing them out, but she just summons them anew immediately and I get hit. I feel like I must be missing something with the hands because I'm losing half my health in a single turn and blocking doesn't seem to help much at all.

My stats are something like 30 HP, 30 FP, and BP in the 50s. Most of my badges are spent on Attack and Defense Up improvements for Mario and the partners. My level is somewhere in the high 20s.

Normally in an RPG, this is the point at which I'd grind, but this game doesn't make it easy to grind as far as I can tell. Anyone have grinding tips, too?

I'm sad I've hit this difficulty roadblock. I was hoping to beat the game. Now I feel like I have at least a few more hours of grinding ahead of me, and I'm wondering if I'd rather just drop it and move on. I was feeling ready to play something else and don't know if it's worth this investment just to see the ending.

EDIT: I'm reading online that this boss's attacks pierce defense. A lot of my BP is dedicated to defense. Does that mean I should clear all those out and go all in on offense? Hmm... Also thinking I should have something to prevent status effects, as some of those are killing me. What I'm struggling to find answers to is what I spoilered, as I truly feel I'm not understanding something about how the fight is supposed to work.
 
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I've found the game relatively easy up until the final boss. Now I've died multiple times and have gotten nowhere close to beating them. Am I bad at the game, or is this a known difficulty spike? Anyone have any tips? I've read strategies online, but I just seem to be losing health waaaay too fast. Some specifics:

The hands! The Shadow Queen's hands just do way too much damage to me. And if I kill the hands, they just come back? Since the hands have HP, I feel like I should be rewarded for clearing them out, but she just summons them anew immediately and I get hit. I feel like I must be missing something with the hands because I'm losing half my health in a single turn and blocking doesn't seem to help much at all.

My stats are something like 30 HP, 30 FP, and BP in the 50s. Most of my badges are spent on Attack and Defense Up improvements for Mario and the partners. My level is somewhere in the high 20s.

Normally in an RPG, this is the point at which I'd grind, but this game doesn't make it easy to grind as far as I can tell. Anyone have grinding tips, too?

I'm sad I've hit this difficulty roadblock. I was hoping to beat the game. Now I feel like I have at least a few more hours of grinding ahead of me, and I'm wondering if I'd rather just drop it and move on. I was feeling ready to play something else and don't know if it's worth this investment just to see the ending.

EDIT: I'm reading online that this boss's attacks pierce defense. A lot of my BP is dedicated to defense. Does that mean I should clear all those out and go all in on offense? Hmm... Also thinking I should have something to prevent status effects, as some of those are killing me. What I'm struggling to find answers to is what I spoilered, as I truly feel I'm not understanding something about how the fight is supposed to work.
Well, from despair came elation. Swapping out my badges, stocking up my items, and getting some lucky roulette spins meant that the final boss went down without hassle this time. What a turnaround. Stepping away for a little probably helped, too.

Now having beaten this game for the first time, a few thoughts:
  1. I'm really excited for Switch 2, but I wouldn't mind if every game just looked as good as this one. I don't think I really need better graphics than this.
  2. This game had one of the better HD Rumble implementations I've experienced. I feel too many games on Switch go too hard with the rumble. This one had a lot more subtlety and showed restraint when it came to intensity.
  3. Nearly a month after release and the game is still at version 1.0. While I'm sure there are some glitches, I didn't experience any. It's kind of refreshing to play a game that is solid on Day 1. (Yes, I know it's a remake, but they still seemingly built a lot from scratch and things can always go wrong.)
I'm glad I finally played this game. It was a weird gap in my GameCube play history, being one of the few classics from that console that's up my alley that I never touched. I'm also glad I stuck with it and beat the final boss after all.

Now to wait for the next Paper Mario and to hope Paper Mario 64 and Super Paper Mario one day get some love, too.
 
I will concede something about TTYD during my replay this time; I normally leave the Trouble Center tasks for late in the game when I have everyone (besides getting Ms. Mowz), but this time I decided to do them as they come up; big mistake. This feels finely paced for the later chapter areas, but they admiiiiiiiiitedly have you return to Petalburg/Hooktails Castle a LOT if you do every mission as they come up, and it becomes even worse when you have to return with Admiral Bobbery/Ms. Mowz for other stuff. I never really noticed before as this is a non-issue late in the game when you have every ability and it feels more like the castle is naturally opening up to the player for more areas to explore/find, but done as they come up actually is a really big pace breaker that they really should've picked up on earlier lmao.

I'd argue it's optional content so it's not a huge deal, but I totally understand the annoyance if you're playing for the first time and are trying to 100%-everything as it comes up as opposed to holding off until later.
 
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I finished this game about two weeks ago now! I think it's about time to do a write-up for the rest of my playthrough, along with my concluding thoughts on the game as whole. Spoilers below if you haven't finished the game yet!

Last time I wrote about this was when I had finished Chapter 6! Chapter 7 was as great as I remembered. It starts off a bit... rocky when you're on the surface of the moon, cause it's a little annoying going so slow... but it all picks up once you're in the X-Naut base! The remix of the X-Naut base theme goes SO hard! And so does the music for the second Magnus von Grapple fight. It didn't disappoint!

Chapter 8 was the real highlight though. Great atmosphere and music, and just a gauntlet of great boss fights! The Bowser and Kammy fight was a bit tricky, but thankfully I had some help from... giant Vivian! And part of the stage falling on Bowser's head and making him dizzy... As an aside, I just wanna say I love how out of place Bowser is in the game. It's so funny how he's almost always one step behind Mario and just never quite understands what's going on. But he's still dangerous! As a kid the parts where you play as Bowser in side-scrolling Mario levels were just the funniest things I had ever seen. They still make me smile! The final fight is simply immaculate. Great build-up, with Grodus (who was just made a complete mockery of by Bowser) immediately made a fool of by the Shadow Queen! The Shadow Queen fight is seriously tough. And though it's cliche, I just love, LOVE the moment when you hear the voices of everyone in the game cheering you and your party on! Funnily enough, the final blow to her was dealt by... a burn from a Firey Jinx!

TTYD has a super fun battle system and a story filled with memorable characters and exciting areas. It perfectly captures the feeling of Mario being out an adventure somewhere far from his home, somewhere unfamiliar but lived in! The remake only improves things further; the localization being much better, the new QoL features like fast travel (which elevates Chapter 4, already a great chapter, into being perhaps the best in the entire game)... it's clear that TTYD is amazing, and by far the best of the Paper Mario series. But there's someone else that makes this game really special... that's right, I gotta talk about Vivian again!

I already posted here about Chapter 4, and how much better the chapter works now that Vivian is openly a transgender woman in the English version. But I gotta talk about how her story concludes, because it's great! Of course I kept Vivian as my active party member for the rest of the game, so I got to hear from her plenty! It's so great to see her grow from being scared and intimidated by Beldam to finding her resolve to finally stand up to her. It's one matter to step away from a toxic family member and embrace a new, found family. But it's another matter entirely to have the courage and resolve to confront that person directly. But Vivian does just that, and triumphs, proving that all the awful things Beldam said about her were wrong!

PXL-20240603-124815007.jpg


Of course, since this is a Mario game, there's gotta be a happy ending. And Vivian's is wonderful, and much improved by the better translation in the remake. In the epilogue, after seeing Mario off, Vivian returns to live with Beldam and Marilyn. In the original version, this is just because they're her family. But in the remake, it's because she's choosing to give them another chance! That's seriously SO much better! As awful as Beldam is, I don't think she'd be willing to cross Goombella or Vivian, given that they helped Mario beat the Shadow Queen... so when Beldam promised Goombella she'd never be mean to Vivian again, I believe her!

And so Vivian gets to stay in touch with her found family, while also staying on good terms with her sisters. And that's just... lovely! In real life, it's not always a guarantee that trans people will get to reconcile with hurtful family members, and sometimes it's best to just cut contact with someone who only intends to make you miserable. Seeing Vivian step out from the Three Shadows, come back to defeat them (and their replacement for her, that little jerk Doopliss!)... and then give them another chance? With even Beldam seeming to realize the error of her ways, and promising to do better? That's really, really sweet... it's a little bit touching, honestly!

While I love the story in TTYD in general, it's Vivian's arc that makes it truly special and truly worthwhile... and that's what makes it the best Mario RPG, period. Before the remake, I liked Super Mario RPG the best, but playing TTYD again with all the improvements the remake has to offer (again, especially with the translation) has made me realize it's just the best. Maybe even one of my favorite games ever. It turned out to be even better than I remembered! ❤️

Oh, and this time, for the first time ever, I cleared the Pit of 100 Trials! That was super tough, especially the fight with Bonetail! I really gotta try the two new bosses soon...
 
I finished this game about two weeks ago now! I think it's about time to do a write-up for the rest of my playthrough, along with my concluding thoughts on the game as whole. Spoilers below if you haven't finished the game yet!

Last time I wrote about this was when I had finished Chapter 6! Chapter 7 was as great as I remembered. It starts off a bit... rocky when you're on the surface of the moon, cause it's a little annoying going so slow... but it all picks up once you're in the X-Naut base! The remix of the X-Naut base theme goes SO hard! And so does the music for the second Magnus von Grapple fight. It didn't disappoint!

Chapter 8 was the real highlight though. Great atmosphere and music, and just a gauntlet of great boss fights! The Bowser and Kammy fight was a bit tricky, but thankfully I had some help from... giant Vivian! And part of the stage falling on Bowser's head and making him dizzy... As an aside, I just wanna say I love how out of place Bowser is in the game. It's so funny how he's almost always one step behind Mario and just never quite understands what's going on. But he's still dangerous! As a kid the parts where you play as Bowser in side-scrolling Mario levels were just the funniest things I had ever seen. They still make me smile! The final fight is simply immaculate. Great build-up, with Grodus (who was just made a complete mockery of by Bowser) immediately made a fool of by the Shadow Queen! The Shadow Queen fight is seriously tough. And though it's cliche, I just love, LOVE the moment when you hear the voices of everyone in the game cheering you and your party on! Funnily enough, the final blow to her was dealt by... a burn from a Firey Jinx!

TTYD has a super fun battle system and a story filled with memorable characters and exciting areas. It perfectly captures the feeling of Mario being out an adventure somewhere far from his home, somewhere unfamiliar but lived in! The remake only improves things further; the localization being much better, the new QoL features like fast travel (which elevates Chapter 4, already a great chapter, into being perhaps the best in the entire game)... it's clear that TTYD is amazing, and by far the best of the Paper Mario series. But there's someone else that makes this game really special... that's right, I gotta talk about Vivian again!

I already posted here about Chapter 4, and how much better the chapter works now that Vivian is openly a transgender woman in the English version. But I gotta talk about how her story concludes, because it's great! Of course I kept Vivian as my active party member for the rest of the game, so I got to hear from her plenty! It's so great to see her grow from being scared and intimidated by Beldam to finding her resolve to finally stand up to her. It's one matter to step away from a toxic family member and embrace a new, found family. But it's another matter entirely to have the courage and resolve to confront that person directly. But Vivian does just that, and triumphs, proving that all the awful things Beldam said about her were wrong!

PXL-20240603-124815007.jpg


Of course, since this is a Mario game, there's gotta be a happy ending. And Vivian's is wonderful, and much improved by the better translation in the remake. In the epilogue, after seeing Mario off, Vivian returns to live with Beldam and Marilyn. In the original version, this is just because they're her family. But in the remake, it's because she's choosing to give them another chance! That's seriously SO much better! As awful as Beldam is, I don't think she'd be willing to cross Goombella or Vivian, given that they helped Mario beat the Shadow Queen... so when Beldam promised Goombella she'd never be mean to Vivian again, I believe her!

And so Vivian gets to stay in touch with her found family, while also staying on good terms with her sisters. And that's just... lovely! In real life, it's not always a guarantee that trans people will get to reconcile with hurtful family members, and sometimes it's best to just cut contact with someone who only intends to make you miserable. Seeing Vivian step out from the Three Shadows, come back to defeat them (and their replacement for her, that little jerk Doopliss!)... and then give them another chance? With even Beldam seeming to realize the error of her ways, and promising to do better? That's really, really sweet... it's a little bit touching, honestly!

While I love the story in TTYD in general, it's Vivian's arc that makes it truly special and truly worthwhile... and that's what makes it the best Mario RPG, period. Before the remake, I liked Super Mario RPG the best, but playing TTYD again with all the improvements the remake has to offer (again, especially with the translation) has made me realize it's just the best. Maybe even one of my favorite games ever. It turned out to be even better than I remembered! ❤️

Oh, and this time, for the first time ever, I cleared the Pit of 100 Trials! That was super tough, especially the fight with Bonetail! I really gotta try the two new bosses soon...
Gosh, I could gush over Vivian for days, but I’m truly impressed and happy with the revisions to the translation they made and for sticking closer to the original script/intent. And I really support the implication of her new epilogue text implying Vivian is giving her sisters a second chance, but on her own terms. Not because “they family.” So proud of her!

But now that I’ve finished the remake… Beldam has to be at least 1000 years-old given the Shadow Queen recognizes her. And I believe Vivian says the Palace of Shadow “feels/looks familiar.”

So… are all of the Three Shadows over 1000 years old???
 
This game had one of the better HD Rumble implementations I've experienced. I feel too many games on Switch go too hard with the rumble. This one had a lot more subtlety and showed restraint when it came to intensity.
I'm particularly fond of how the plane and boat panels map the vibration so that it comes from the center (meaning, if you're standing on the left side of one, the right side of the controller vibrates). It's just a subtle neat touch that feels good, and I'd like to see more future games play with this idea of locating a rumble source through directional vibration.

Nearly a month after release and the game is still at version 1.0. While I'm sure there are some glitches, I didn't experience any. It's kind of refreshing to play a game that is solid on Day 1. (Yes, I know it's a remake, but they still seemingly built a lot from scratch and things can always go wrong.)
The only bugs I'm aware of are rare, but they are bad. There's been reports of the game locking up unexpectedly, including at the beginning of the final floor of the pit of 100 trials. I think there will be a minor patch at some point.

Still, these do seem to be rare, and if you don't run into them the experience is essentially flawless.

(I suppose I am aware of one more minor bug; my brother initiated a battle in Chapter 2 while some of the punies following him were falling in the air, and upon exiting the battle they were just gone. But the elder can call them back and reset everything, so it's no big deal.)

Now to wait for the next Paper Mario and to hope Paper Mario 64 and Super Paper Mario one day get some love, too.
Remind me, have you played these titles?
 
I'm particularly fond of how the plane and boat panels map the vibration so that it comes from the center (meaning, if you're standing on the left side of one, the right side of the controller vibrates). It's just a subtle neat touch that feels good, and I'd like to see more future games play with this idea of locating a rumble source through directional vibration.


The only bugs I'm aware of are rare, but they are bad. There's been reports of the game locking up unexpectedly, including at the beginning of the final floor of the pit of 100 trials. I think there will be a minor patch at some point.

Still, these do seem to be rare, and if you don't run into them the experience is essentially flawless.

(I suppose I am aware of one more minor bug; my brother initiated a battle in Chapter 2 while some of the punies following him were falling in the air, and upon exiting the battle they were just gone. But the elder can call them back and reset everything, so it's no big deal.)


Remind me, have you played these titles?
I've played Super Paper Mario (my first Paper Mario) but never touched Paper Mario on N64. For the former, I'd just like the ability to replay it and figure we could get a basic re-release. For the latter, I know it's on NSO but would prefer some kind of upressed version after being spoiled by the Wii U and Switch Paper Marios in recent years.
 
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I actually really like what happened to the General White search with the new shortcuts. It now feels entirely like a Scooby Doo Hallway Chase scene in which every time you enter a door, he’s just left another one.
One person's trash is another person's treasure I guess. I personally did not enjoy the obvious padding (nor waking up the dude). In a game that is already quite heavy on the backtracking, doing it so obviously once more was a bit of a bummer. And then the actual ice area was teeny tiny.
 
Gosh, I could gush over Vivian for days, but I’m truly impressed and happy with the revisions to the translation they made and for sticking closer to the original script/intent. And I really support the implication of her new epilogue text implying Vivian is giving her sisters a second chance, but on her own terms. Not because “they family.” So proud of her!

But now that I’ve finished the remake… Beldam has to be at least 1000 years-old given the Shadow Queen recognizes her. And I believe Vivian says the Palace of Shadow “feels/looks familiar.”

So… are all of the Three Shadows over 1000 years old???

Oh yeah! So the line we get is this:

PXL-20240603-135840010.jpg


I'm pretty sure this is the same room that you fight Grodus in. So it's pretty close to where the Shadow Queen is! It's an ambiguous line, so there's a few ways we can take it.

First, we know for certain that Beldam and the Shadow Queen know each other. No idea about Marilyn. Vivian however doesn't seem to really know about the Shadow Queen; she wasn't in the loop about Beldam's true plans. So why does she say the room seems familiar?

It could be that she's been here before, but was just too young at the time to remember. It could also be that because she can sense the Shadow Queen's presence up ahead, and given that the Shadow Queen is an extremely powerful shadow demon, her presence could feel similar to Beldam and Marilyn. That might explain why it feels "bad" for her to be there.

It's an interesting line, and that's just my speculation! Now to finish my guesswork, here's something I meant to put at the end of my last post... the official Theme of Transfem Mischief, for your listening pleasure:

 
One person's trash is another person's treasure I guess. I personally did not enjoy the obvious padding (nor waking up the dude). In a game that is already quite heavy on the backtracking, doing it so obviously once more was a bit of a bummer. And then the actual ice area was teeny tiny.
I feel like calling it “padding” is a bit much, especially when they made many efforts to reduce the backtracking in this release. If anything, General White’s section was made much, much, much less painful than it used to be, when there were no shortcut pipes to use.

… I do agree the ice area was too small, though - that battle theme is way too good to restrict to two screens.
 
Fawful and Cackletta are still the peak when it comes to Mario RPG villains imo.
I adore Elder and Younger Princess Shroob. They're such distant, yet overarching villains. You don't hear a peep out of them for so much of the game, and you see the giant statues of the Younger before you even meet her. It really makes an impression. Shroob Castle is also one of my favourite dungeons in a Mario RPG, the hub made into a place with nearly every puzzle you've dealt with so far spun up to 11.
 
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Oh yeah! So the line we get is this:

PXL-20240603-135840010.jpg


I'm pretty sure this is the same room that you fight Grodus in. So it's pretty close to where the Shadow Queen is! It's an ambiguous line, so there's a few ways we can take it.

First, we know for certain that Beldam and the Shadow Queen know each other. No idea about Marilyn. Vivian however doesn't seem to really know about the Shadow Queen; she wasn't in the loop about Beldam's true plans. So why does she say the room seems familiar?

It could be that she's been here before, but was just too young at the time to remember. It could also be that because she can sense the Shadow Queen's presence up ahead, and given that the Shadow Queen is an extremely powerful shadow demon, her presence could feel similar to Beldam and Marilyn. That might explain why it feels "bad" for her to be there.

It's an interesting line, and that's just my speculation! Now to finish my guesswork, here's something I meant to put at the end of my last post... the official Theme of Transfem Mischief, for your listening pleasure:


Vivian's theme feels like a villain's theme that's been contorted and hammered into a heroic ballad. While it absolutely is that on top of just feeling that way, I'm trying to figure out what those are.

Of course there's the Three Shadows, but I want to say I hear Shadow Queen, and... King Olly? I think?

Edit:

Well, now I'm crying uncontrollably to this song. I see a lot of myself in Viv and this game made a major emotional impact on me. Guh.
 
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Fawful and Cackletta are still the peak when it comes to Mario RPG villains imo.
For me it’s Dimentio. I don’t care much for SPM, but I remember playing the game thinking “this Dimentio guy is way cooler than Bleck, he should be the main villain.” Then when he took over I was delighted. He keeps you on your toes and the central twist behind him is really cool.

I do like though how SS uses Cackletta. Beating her halfway through the game, only for the story to pull the rug out from under you after you think it’s over, was also a good twist.
 
For me it’s Dimentio. I don’t care much for SPM, but I remember playing the game thinking “this Dimentio guy is way cooler than Bleck, he should be the main villain.” Then when he took over I was delighted. He keeps you on your toes and the central twist behind him is really cool.

I do like though how SS uses Cackletta. Beating her halfway through the game, only for the story to pull the rug out from under you after you think it’s over, was also a good twist.

I like Bleck and Dimentio a lot, they're right up there in my estimations.

One of the bigger disappointments with playing Super Mario RPG for the first time through the remake was the realisation that Smithy was a complete non-entity as a villain.
 
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It's dumb that they made hitting Whacka required for 100%. The whole point of it in the previous games was that it's an optional benefit, but taking advantage of it is immoral in-universe. Having the gold badge locked behind it makes it not optional in the same way. It would make a lot more sense if it was still optional, but hitting Whacka made the Pit harder by adding him as another boss. Maybe the more times you hit him, the more difficult he'd be. And if you didn't hit him, you could get the Tattle from Frankly's trash.
 


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